Rise of the Planet of the Apes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Across the board, this was a very appealing transfer.
At all times, sharpness looked great. If any softness marred the presentation, I missed it; I found nothing but solid delineation and clarity here. I saw no signs of shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. No issues with source flaws materialized either, as the movie always remained clean and fresh.
In terms of colors, the flick went with a somewhat golden tone, especially when it focused on Caesar’s home and happier times. When the movie went with more dramatic elements – or spent time at the lab – it opted for a colder, teal impression. Out in nature, we saw a greener palette. The colors were consistently well-displayed and appropriate. Blacks looked deep and firm, and shadows were usually fine. A few shots seemed a little thick, but most of the scenes displayed good clarity. Overall, this was a terrific presentation.
As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Rise, it also worked well. The movie presented a fairly engaging soundfield. Not surprisingly, its best moments related to the mix of action scenes. These helped open up the spectrum pretty nicely.
Otherwise, we got good stereo impressions from the music along with solid environmental material. The latter reverberated in the rear speakers to positive effect, and some unique action material popped up there as well. The entire third act threatened to turn into a demo reel, as the rampaging apes allowed the mix to demonstrate a high level in immersion and activity.
No problems with audio quality occurred. Speech was always concise and natural, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music seemed bright and lively. Effects showed good distinctiveness, and they offered nice low-end when appropriate. All of this created a strong sonic impression that made the movie more involving.
We get a broad roster of extras on this Blu-ray. These include two separate audio commentaries, the first of which features director Rupert Wyatt. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at music and audio design, cast and performances, visual effects and creation of the apes, sets and locations, cinematography, character/story areas and editing,
While Wyatt covers a good array of subjects, he does so in a lackluster manner. He tends toward dryness, and the commentary comes with many stops and starts, as Wyatt goes quiet for brief periods. We do learn a reasonable amount about the production, but the track’s sluggishness makes it less enjoyable than I’d like.
For the second commentary, we hear from writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion of the project's origins, development and research, story/character/script areas, allusions to earlier Apes flicks, and a few other production areas.
Though it slows somewhat as it goes, this commentary usually works quite well. We get solid insights into story/character decisions and learn a lot about the script’s evolution. Even though it sags a bit during the film’s second half, this is still a valuable and enjoyable piece.
11 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 12 minutes. Most of these offer extra exposition that connects some dots. For instance, we see how Will restarted his research, and we view Caesar’s first attempts to solve puzzles. One of the assistants at the animal reserve gets more development, and we see additional brutality there as well.
Some also extend existing scenes with small tidbits, such as Caesar with a bicycle before a neighbor discovers him. The scene in which Caesar attacks a neighbor also comes with a more violent twist. The added material is interesting to see but not terrible important; some of the scenes are fun but I don’t think any would’ve helped the movie.
Note that many of the scenes lack final animation. This means we usually see Andy Serkis and others in “performance capture” suits as they act out the pre-animated apes. While it’d be nice to view the clips as they would’ve looked on the big screen, the absence of finished effects doesn’t make them less interesting.
Six featurettes follow. The Genius of Andy Serkis goes for seven minutes, 48 seconds and provides notes from Silver, Jaffa, Wyatt, VFX supervisor Dan Lemmon, producer Dylan Clark, Senior VFX producer Joe Letteri, co-produce Kurt Williams, and actors James Franco, Andy Serkis, Tom Felton, Brian Cox, John Lithgow and Devyn Dalton. “Genius” looks at the performance Serkis gives bring the CG-animated ape to life. Too much of this comes out as lavish praise – not a surprise in a piece called “Genius” – but we still get enough good insights into the “performance capture” process to make it worth a look.
With the nine-minute, 41-second A New Generation of Apes, we hear from Wyatt, Williams, Letteri, Lemmon, Serkis, animation supervisor Eric Reynolds, creatures supervisor Matthew Muntean, VFX supervisor R. Christopher White, digital creatures supervisor Simon Clutterbuck, texture/creature art director Gino Acevedo, lead texture artist Keven Norris, lead groomer Nicholas Gaul, animation supervisor Daniel Barrett, and actor Terry Notary. “Apes” looks at the methods used to create the film’s animated animals. Some of this piggybacks on “Genius” – that featurette probably should’ve just wrapped into this one – but “Apes” digs into the technical elements with greater specificity. It’s another useful take on the topic.
Next we get Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries. It lasts eight minutes, 43 seconds and features Notary, Wyatt, Clark, Letteri, Lemmon, Barrett, Reynolds, Acevedo, VFX supervisor Erik Winquist, motion capture supervisor Dejan Momcilovic, and head of layout/animation technologies Shawn Dunn. Here we learn more about performance capture and the methods used to shoot the film’s climactic battle. Expect to get another good perspective on the technical side of the moviemaking process.
The Great Apes occupies 22 minutes, 37 seconds with information about three different creatures: chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. The program combines text, “character turnarounds” for CG Rise characters and comments from Chimp Haven president/director Linda Brent, Chimp Haven program behavior/education program manager Amy Fultz, Yerkes National Primate Research Center Director of Living Links Frans de Waal, Wellington Zoo primate keeper Vimal Patel, USC Jane Goodall Research Center co-director Craig Stanford, Chimp Haven behavior technician Erin Loeser, Indianapolis Zoo Vice President of Life Sciences Dr. Rob Shumaker, and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Chair of Research and Conservation Tara Stoinski.
Across these pieces, we learn basics about the different animals. We find nice details and discover an interesting overview of facts related to the various apes in this well-executed section.
For the seven-minute, 11-second Mythology of the Apes, we find comments from Wyatt, Serkis, Jaffa, Franco, and Silver. They discuss attempts to keep Rise connected to the original series and reveal some “Easter eggs” that appear in the film. Some of this repeats material heard in the commentaries, but we get new info as well, and the screen comparisons of visual allusions are fun to see.
Finally, Composing the Score runs eight minutes, seven seconds and delivers info from composer Patrick Doyle. He talks about the film’s music and we get details about themes and goals. It's a reasonably informative glimpse of the composer’s work.
Under Scene Breakdown, we get to look at a sequence from a mix of angles. We see “Final Scene with Picture-in-Picture Reference”, “Early Animation” and “Performance Capture”. The basic scene lasts one minute, 34 seconds, though obviously it would take you three times as long to watch each option from start to finish. This offers a nice way to check out the various stages of effects work.
We finish with a Character Concept Art Gallery. It shows a panel with images of nine characters used to demonstrate their size/height in comparison with each other. We can click on eight of them – all except for human Will – and see closeups of the design drawings and pictures of the simians as rendered in the film. It’s a little thin as an art gallery, but it’s decent.
The disc opens with clips for The Sitter and In Time. We also find three trailers for Rise plus Sneak Peeks for Machine Gun Preacher, Immortals, Another Earth, There Be Dragons and FX Network.
A second platter provides both a digital copy of Rise for use on computers or digital portable gadgets as well as a DVD copy of the film. This delivers a barebones package, so don’t expect any extras on the DVD.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes turned into one of 2011’s most pleasant cinematic surprises. It helps relaunch the franchise in a terrific manner, as it mixes drama and action well. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals and audio as well as a pretty interesting set of supplements. I definitely recommend this exciting film and quality Blu-ray.